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Is England letting Wilfred Zaha switch nationalities a big mistake?

Friday 23rd December 2016
There have been reports circulating in recent weeks suggesting Crystal Palace winger, Wilfred Zaha, is on the verge of switching international allegiance from England to Ivory Coast after making a mere 2 appearances for The Three Lions; both of which came in friendlies. So how big of a mistake have England made letting the young attacker go?
After the sale of fellow wide man Yannick Bolasie to Everton in the summer, Crystal Palace was always going to rely heavily on Zaha despite the signing of Andros Townsend. The Englishman offers them penetration against opposition defence lines, which is key to winning football matches.

Thus far this term, Zaha has not disappointed Palace's fans. He has picked up where he left off last season and has continued to be a thorn in the side of opposition fullbacks, terrorizing them with his tremendous pace and power. The 24-year-old's defensive contribution has improved of late and is now looking every inch a better player to the one we saw at Manchester United.

In spite of his very good form for The Eagles, Zaha has been made to wait patiently in the wings for a senior international call-up from England. His first one came in 2013 but has been left bitterly disappointed waiting by the phone since.

The former United forward now appears to have taken matters into his own hands, and has decided to switch international allegiance to West African nation, Ivory Coast.

Recently sacked Palace manager Alan Pardew believes England are making "a big mistake" letting Zaha go and said he has spoken to England manager, Gareth Southgate, about it.

Commenting on the situation after his side's vastly entertaining 3-3 draw against Hull City the dailymail  quoted Pardew to have said:

"Gareth is someone I know very well and we have spoken about Wilf"

"You've got to be really proactive with someone if you want to secure him, I keep encouraging Gareth, and (FA technical direction) Dan Ashworth as well"

"There are some good wide players in the country. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andros Townsend, Andros Townsend, and I think Wilf is a good as them, if not better." The former Newcastle manager added Zaha is amongst the very best players he has managed in his long career.

English wide players, most especially, have often been criticised for lacking end product and Pardew's claim is backed up by stats that shows Zaha has made more assists (6) than any other English wide man. In fact, the closest to that figure is Sterling who has made just 3. Although one might argue Walcott (8) and Sterling (5) have scored more goals than Zaha who has 3 to his name.

While I have no doubt in my mind that England will be better off with Zaha in the national team, they already boast of very capable attacking options in their armoury.

Even if The Three Lions had managed to include Zaha in their squad, sooner or later he would be dropped in favour of others are more established than he is; including the likes of the aforementioned duo, Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott.

If he eventually completes his switch, Zaha will surely play in the African Cup of Nations next month. Such has been The Eagle's reliance on the former England U21 international, that he has played in every single League game for Palace this season. If he does jet off for the AFCON, they are more than likely to drop into the relegation zone while he is away.

Zaha playing for The Elephants is a mouth-watering prospect as he will certainly set the African continent alight with his pace and trickery.

All in all, England are more than capable of succeeding at all fronts without Zaha in the fold and Palace had better start thinking of a way to cope without him for a month or so.
Adoyi Joshua Adoyi

Adoyi is a Nigerian with a keen passion for sports  - more so football and is an avid supporter of Manchester United. He spends his weekends glued to his TV screen, watching the beautiful game.


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